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Project History and Credits

Language learning has long taken place in immersive environments; study abroad is a great example of that! While some enthusiasts can learn a language (a written language) from a book, we generally learn languages as a means for accessing some part of another culture: the art, the literature, the daily customs and living conditions, or for the purpose of establishing trade or interpersonal relationships. For many students and languages, study abroad is not a feasible option. This is particularly true when the language and culture are long gone, as is the case with ancient and medieval languages. Fortunately, digital immersive environments are within our reach, using something as simple as a cell phone for AR or VR, a VR headset, or a computer. Gaming aficionados have used commercial software to improve their language skills simply by switching the language on the user interface, but commercial games do not have accurate social and cultural depictions as their primary aim. In a classroom context, instructors often find the lack of authenticity off-putting. I have been working with students and colleagues to create more appropriate environments to learn medieval language and culture in an authentic way that meets current professional standards for language learning assessment.

In 2016, Todd Hughes, David Neville, and I organized a conference on medieval language and culture learning in virtual environments and invited industry professionals, language specialists, medievalists, and immersive environment creators. This website has our program with participants and topics, including links to videos of the presentations.

Since 2015, I have been working independently and with student groups to create immersive environments for medieval language and culture. The immersive environment for learning medieval French, Brendan’s Voyage, has had several iterations, and these videos and images capture some of the key development moments:

This early version of Brendan’s Voyage included medieval French language with the goal of learning the vocabulary and cultural context for translation and storytelling, as well as manuscript creation:

Here is a second screen capture from the same version:

A later student group learning about VR worked on game mechanics and environments (but not Brendan’s Voyage or language learning):

Project Bibliography:

  • Ramey, Lynn. 2020. “Teaching the World Through Digital Technology and Media.” In Approaches to Teaching the Global Middle Ages. NY: Modern Language Association of America.
  • Ramey, Lynn, David Neville, Sahar Amer, Jonathan deHaan, Maxime Durand, Brandon Essary, Robert Howland, et al. 2019. “Revisioning the Global Middle Ages: Immersive Environments for Teaching Medieval Languages and Culture.” Digital Philology 8 (1): 86–104.
  • Amer, Sahar, and Lynn Ramey. 2018. “Teaching the Global Middle Ages with Technology.” Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies 35 (2): 179–91.
  • Ramey, Lynn, Virginia Scott, and Maité Monchal. 2018. “Dispelling Binaries and Fostering Global Citizenship: Changing Conceptions in the Undergraduate French Major at Vanderbilt University.” ADE and ADFL Bulletin: Literary Studies and Globalization ADE 156 ADFL 45.1: 1–12.
  • Arguing with Digital History working group. 2017. “Digital History and Argument.” White paper. Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.
  • Martinez-Dávila, Roger, and Lynn Ramey. 2017. “Remediation and 3D Design: Immediacy and the Medieval Video Game World.” In Digital Medieval Literature and Culture, edited by Jennifer E. Boyle and Helen J. Burgess, 167–85. NY: Routledge.
  • Ramey, Lynn, and Steven Wenz. 2016. “Immersive Environments for Medieval Languages: Theory and Practice.” South Atlantic Review 81 (2): 93–111.
  • Ramey, Lynn, and Rebecca Panter. 2015. “Collaborative Storytelling in Unity3D: Creating Scalable Long-Term Projects for Humanists.” In Interactive Storytelling, edited by H. Schoenau-Fog, et al., 9445:357–60. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Copenhagen: Springer-Verlag.

Project Participants:

Project Director – Lynn Ramey

Phase One (2015-2018)
Project Co-directors – Rebecca Panter and Steven Wenz
Graphic Design – Cat Ramey
Language Consulting and Voice Acting – Jacob Abell and Daniel O’Sullivan
Level Design –Xueying Ding, Jake Henson, Nick Holterman, Christina Hwang, Luke Mills, Rachel Roepke, Rachel Sapp, Joshua Wilson
Server Administration – Chandan Marella
Phase Two (2020-2021)
Project Co-director – David Fredrick (U of Arkansas)
Project Manager – Jacob Abell
Graphic Design – Meghan Connor
Development Team (Tesseract @ Arkansas) – Adam Schoelz, Brianna Jenkins, Nicholas Reynolds